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"When It Feels Right in Your Gut, Get On It!"

While there are some universal tenets of success, entrepreneurs wouldn’t be entrepreneurs if they didn’t march to the beat of their own inner drummer. Many successful small business owners have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that help them achieve success.

Here some of today’s smartest, most innovative, highly successful business owners share their insights and success secrets with you.

Meet: Brenda Mierzejewski, the creator and owner of Mizzi Cosmetics, which makes LIPLUXE, a luxury all-natural and vegan-based lip balm and lip scrub. The products are sold in fine hotels and spas across the United States.

Brenda donates a portion of sales to the American Heart Association and Lily’s’ Kids Inc., a local nonprofit in Middletown, Connecticut, whose primary focus is the prevention and awareness of heart disease in children, young adults and their families. Brenda does this to help bring awareness and support to those in need with congestive heart disease, and to pay it forward for all the help her family received when her son Brady needed open heart surgery as an infant. (He’s a healthy kid today.)

Mizzi Cosmetics’ products help prevent dry, chapped lips and provide a high-shine lip seal that lasts for hours.

Brenda, a self-described makeup junkie and chocoholic, can be found on Twitter @MizziCosmetics. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Brenda Mierzejewski: I always wanted to be a hairdresser and makeup artist. I grew up with two older sisters, and they were always dressing me up, doing my hair and putting make up on me. When I got older I was doing the same thing to all my friends. I loved everything about it and still do, but my path took me down a different journey.

I decided I loved working in the pharmaceutical industry, got my Bachelors in Business, and worked in logistics and supply chain for more than 12 years before I started my own company. Why did you start your own business?

Mierzejewski: I had no plans to. I was getting ready to go back to work full-time after being home with my children for seven years. Interviews were lined up and I had several opportunities brought forth to me. When I started making this lip balm randomly for my family’s chapped lips, it turned into something bigger than I ever dreamed. Who would have thought a simple kitchen-made product would get from the East Coast to West Coast and gain national attention in as little as four months? Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?

Mierzejewski: I did—we were given the opportunity to be in the 87th Annual Academy Awards Oscar swag bags in 2015. I truly realized I can take this itty-bitty cosmetics business to the top. There are billions of dollars made every year in the cosmetics industry alone. I was ready to take this to the next level and not look back. I was ready to do this for my career and, mainly, for my family.

I loved what I was creating. I love that this product worked for my family, my children and everyone around me. I loved it was getting national attention and that retailers were seeking me out. It became a part of my life. I am passionate about it; I think about it all the time. My kids love helping me, and my husband and family are so proud of where it has gone so far. This is ME! What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?

Mierzejewski: Whether you have an idea or you stumble upon it, when it feels “right” in your gut—in your soul—get on it! It could be something amazing, and you don’t know until you try. What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?

Mierzejewski: Leveraging your network. I’ve learned over the years you have many different networks: family, friends, mentors, positive people and negative people. Know who you need—and don’t need—to surround yourself with at the right time. Leverage the right people for the circumstance and keep an open mind. Do you have a prediction for small business?

Mierzejewski: Besides the economy slipping a few years back, more and more people are trying to support the USA and things that are made right here in our beautiful country to support our country and small towns. 

Not only that but, so many more people are becoming “natural” or “vegan” and doing more things that are healthy for their families and themselves. This movement has created a shift in what people purchase and where people purchase. This is creating more people and families shopping locally, buying more products made in the USA, or in my case, made in Portland, Connecticut. My prediction is: Small business will be thriving better than they ever have before. What’s your favorite book?

Mierzejewski: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?

Mierzejewski: “If you can push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking a risk, really amazing things can happen.”—Melissa Mayer, former president/CEO of Yahoo